Texas authorities say a 30-year-old man lied about his salary to get more than $1.6 million dollars in COVID-19 relief money through the Paycheck Protection Program and has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
His PPP loan applications included false information about the number of employees and payroll expenses. Additionally, Price submitted false tax records and other documents to support the fraudulent PPP loan applications.
The Texas PPP program approved 559,159 loans totaling $22,263,165,930 dollars through the end of 2021. In total, 11,823,594 PPPs totaling $799,832,866,520 were granted.
Lee Price III, of Houston, later spent the money on a Lamborghini Urus, a Ford F-350 truck, a Rolex watch among other things. In addition, he paid off his home mortgage.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, guaranteed by the US Small Business Administration, were made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program, which ended on May 31, was intended to keep businesses' workforces employed during the COVID-19 crisis.
According to The Associated Press, “Mr. Price hopes that others will learn from his reckoning that there is no easy money,” Price’s lawyer Tom Berg said in an email to news outlets. “He has the balance of the 110-month sentence to reflect, repent and rebuild his misspent life.”
More than $700,000 of the funds Price obtained through the scheme were seized by authorities.
150 people have been prosecuted by the Department of Justice for fraudulently obtaining PPP funding, and more than $75 million has been seized.